Ex­er­cise: Two Cav­al­letti on a Straight Line

Practical Horseman - - The Ride of Your Life -

I start the ex­er­cise by can­ter­ing Chance straight to the mid­dle of the first cav­al­letti. Be­cause we ar­rive in a nice com­fort­able bal­ance, he sim­ply steps over the cav­al­letti. In the air, we’re both fo­cus­ing on the sec­ond cav­al­letti. I’ve got­ten a lit­tle ahead of the mo­tion here—I’d like to see my seat closer to the sad­dle and my up­per body not quite so for­ward. Af­ter we land, I keep the nice con­nec­tion be­tween my hands and the bit so we main­tain the same rhythm and bal­ance on a straight track all the way to the cen­ter of the sec­ond cav­al­letti.

Next, we ap­proach the first cav­al­letti in a more for­ward can­ter, aim­ing to leave out a stride in the line. When Chance takes a slightly big­ger can­ter step over it, he twists his shoul­ders sub­tly. This is his nat­u­rally weaker lead and he’s find­ing it a lit­tle more dif­fi­cult to main­tain his straight­ness in the more for­ward can­ter. I cor­rect him by keep­ing my body straight on my de­sired line and us­ing my in­ner (right) thigh and calf to push him back on track. My cor­rec­tion works and he lands straight on the track. I lighten my seat, us­ing my body to en­cour­age him to con­tinue in the for­ward can­ter to the sec­ond cav­al­letti, and leave out a stride. I haven’t aban­doned him, though—I still have a nice con­nec­tion to his mouth and my legs are gen­tly wrapped around his sides to pro­vide sup­port.

Fi­nally, we ap­proach the line in a more col­lected can­ter. I sink my weight closer to the sad­dle and bring my up­per body back slightly, ask­ing Chance to shorten his stride. Be­cause he is very ex­pe­ri­enced and ad­justable, I aim to add two strides this time. Af­ter jump­ing the first cav­al­letti, I sit up a lit­tle more in the sad­dle and ask him to main­tain this col­lected can­ter all the way to the sec­ond cav­al­letti. Com­pare his shorter stride and more com­pressed frame here to the can­ter we had in Photo 4. Although this is harder work for him, he’s still re­spond­ing obe­di­ently to my rein con­tact and stay­ing straight through his body, so we’ll ar­rive at the sec­ond cav­al­letti in a nice bal­ance.

Ride the line five times in one di­rec­tion, take a break and re­peat in the other di­rec­tion. Start with com­fort­able strid­ing for your horse and then add or sub­tract strides in sub­se­quent passes. See “Begin­ner Plan” and “Ad­vanced Plan” be­low for sug­gested strid­ing per pass.

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